Sphinx Pose is a beginning backbend in yoga that helps to open the chest, lungs, and low back. It is a variation of the backbend, Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), that is suitable for those with wrist pain, injuries, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Since Sphinx is performed on the forearms, it takes the pressure off the wrists while providing all of the benefits of Cobra Pose.
Its name in Sanskrit, "Salamba Bhujangasana" (sah-LOM-bah boo-jahn-GAHS-uh-nuh), comes from four Sanskrit words:
"Sa" — meaning "with"
"Alamba" — meaning "support"
"Bhujanga" — meaning "cobra" or "serpent"
"Asana" — meaning "pose"
The "support" refers to your forearms, which help lift your upper body in the pose. This pose is more commonly referred to as "Sphinx Pose" because the pose resembles the mythological, half-lion creatures, immortalized in ancient Egyptian statues.
Benefits of Sphinx Pose
Sphinx Pose is a gentle backbend suitable for most beginners. It lengthens the abdominal muscles, strengthens the spine, and firms the buttocks. It also stretches and opens the chest, lungs, and shoulders. It invigorates the body, soothes the nervous system, and is also therapeutic for fatigue.
The pressure placed on the abdomen stimulates the digestive organs. It warms the spine and helps to rebalance the natural curve of your lower back. This counteracts low-back flatness caused by long periods of sitting. Sphinx Pose is also an excellent preparatory pose for deeper backbends.
In addition, Sphinx is considered a gentle "heart-opening" pose because it stimulates the fourth “chakra” (energy center), located at your heart center. In yoga, it is believed that opening this chakra can help increase self-confidence and inspire a more positive outlook on life, while also helping to alleviate depression. 🧘♀️